The winner of a major sheep shearing title at the Horowhenua AP&I Show last year hasn't seen a lot of sheep this season.
Levin farmer Jaycob Brunton, 27, is hoping a stint shearing sheep in the Wairarapa this week will have him primed for a defence of his senior title when the clippers start buzzing.
After almost 10 consecutive seasons of serious sheep shearing Brunton has gone back to dairy farming - something he started with in his early teens - and was only picking up the clippers as a side hustle.
Brunton was also on deck helping prepare the sheep for the Levin show, too, which should help sharpen him up. Each sheep had to have its fleece at a decent length be crutched in the days prior to competition, and be kept dry.
More than 500 sheep were needed for the competition and would be coming from farms owned by Tim Mansell and the Timms family, to be settled in the yards at the Levin Showgrounds.
Meanwhile, one of the event's organisers, Don Bryant, said some of the best shearers in the North Island would be competing in the Open section at the Levin show.
There were five grades of competition - Open, Senior Intermediate, Junior and Novice, with many of the Open shearers using it as a lead in to the annual Golden Shears national competition in Masterton in early March.
The novice grade was for newcomers to shearing.
Most competitors that were entering for the competition would have been working through the current season, having shorn huge numbers of sheep each day.
A top shearer could shear as many as 400 sheep in a day.
Bryant said the wool industry has had its challenges, but there was good money to be made for anyone willing to work hard. The going rate these days was $2 a sheep.
"It's good money. You put the effort in and you get paid," he said.
That's what Brunton said attracted him to shearing sheep in the first place - the harder you worked, the more you got paid, and it had taken him overseas, too, with stints working in Italy and Australia.
"It was a way to make money and see the world," he said.
Bryant said a good shearer could travel the world. Wherever there were sheep, there were sheep shearers.
So while shearers like to put their prowess with the clippers to the test with competition, Bryant said watching a champion shearer in full flight was a great sight.
"They have the x-factor," he said.
Entries were taken on the morning of competition. Shearing starts at 9am with the open final pencilled in to start about 2pm.